The first colored President of the ABA called for more colored judges, judges, law professors – you name it. “Stand up and speak,” he told his audience.

The incoming president of the American Bar Association urged Wisconsin lawyers Thursday to “stand up and speak” when they see injustice, whether it’s in the justice system, the business community or society.

If we are to remove real and perceived biases in the courts, we must diversify. We need more lawyers of color and more law clerks of color, judges, justices, law professors and partners in law firms. The face of the courts must reflect the face of the society it seeks to protect.

“Lawyers are ministers of justice,” Dennis Archer told members of the State Bar of Wisconsin during a luncheon at the group’s annual convention in Milwaukee.

Archer said lawyers face challenges, ranging from “real or perceived” racial biases in the judicial system to what role attorneys should play in “corporate governance.”

Currently, he said, an ABA task force on “corporate responsibility” is examining the rules that govern lawyers in corporate settings.

“They have taken a hard look at whether those rules should be changed or strengthened, in light of corporate scandals such as Enron, Arthur Andersen, WorldCom, Tyco and others,” he said.

“We are in a unique position to produce true social justice – the elimination of inequities – that can make life unnecessarily hard for a certain class of people and unnecessarily easy for another class.”

The two-term mayor of Detroit, who will be the ABA’s first president of color when he takes the position in August, said recent national studies indicate that many people believe the courts do not treat all ethnic and racial groups the same.

“If we are to remove real and perceived biases in the courts, we must diversify,” he said. “We need more lawyers of color and more law clerks of color, judges, justices, law professors and partners in law firms. The face of the courts must reflect the face of the society it seeks to protect.”

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